Spring is here. In many places the trees are budding, the grass is greening, spring flowers are blooming and the animals are shedding their thick coats of fur. After the long, deep sleep of winter, nature is waking up all around us. The longer days arouse the senses and give us renewed energy to start afresh ourselves.
Like the breath of spring, yoga offers many wonderful ways to awake and renew ourselves every day. An easy and effective wake-up pose is a combination of two poses, Cat (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bidalasana), commonly called Marjaryasana when used together. Cat/Cow naturally awakens the spine by flexing it, opening and closing the spaces between the vertebrae at the front and the back. When combined with the breath, Cat/Cow is an effective way to generate more of that spring-like energy inside yourself.
Marjaryasana can be done in lots of different ways: on all fours, seated in a chair, or standing with your knees bent and your hands on your thighs. Inhale and drop your belly like an old cow, spreading the bones out in your chest as your shoulder blades kiss. Exhale and push your back upward like a cat, pulling your belly button toward your spine and lifting your pelvic floor. Do this at either a regular breathing pace, or super slow, or really fast if you’re looking for extra warmth and energy. You an even try switching the breath, so that you’re breathing out for cow and in for cat. Add a lion’s breath at the end of your cow for fun, sticking your tongue out and looking down at the tip of your nose as you let out a soft roar.
In the playful and regenerative spirit of spring, play with it! See what different variations and movements you can discover to help you wake up and get to know your body a little better today. Happy spring!
Here is a short video to demonstrate some of the variations in Cat/Cow Pose.
Image: Collage of images colored by Miss Michele Palumbo by K. Mae Copham. Video shot by Robert Oakley in New Paltz, NY, April 2019.